Since Mathematics is a stepping stone subject, where a gap in understanding in one area can affect many other areas, it seems essential not only to keep the student continually engaged but also to give students the tools to identify any areas causing difficulty. The opportunities for increased engagement and timely and high quality feedback that e-assessment can offer make it an ideal tool to meet these needs.
The national consensus is that skills in the STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are of particular importance for Ireland at the present time. The Hunt Report places a particular emphasis on the fact that business and enterprise in Ireland needs our Higher Education Institutions to produce graduates with a high level of literacy in Mathematics and core digital skills. The majority of students studying for a science or engineering based degree at an Irish University or Institute of Technology take Mathematics as a compulsory first year module.
It is clear from student feedback that many students regard this as a continuation of the irritation that was Mathematics as a compulsory subject at Leaving Certificate. One way to break the vicious circle of poor student performance and poor student engagement is to present students with a more positive learning experience. Formative e-assessment, in particular the instant reward for correct work that it provides, can improve students' experience of Mathematics once the correct balance between online and face-to-face has been achieved.